Wen Ho Lee, Designated Scapegoat
Jude Wanniski
August 9, 1999


Memo To: Bob Novak
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Recapping the China Spy Story

I know this stuff gets awfully complicated, Bob, but the latest turn in the China spy story really deserves your attention. There seems to be no other journalist in the country who is interested in getting to the bottom of the story. Mike Wallace did a great job on 60 Minutes last Sunday making Bill Richardson look like the prevaricator he is. Yes, he is a good friend of yours and has been for a long time, but Richardson has become the designated liar for his pal, the President, from one assignment to the next.

The latest Lie by the Designated Liar is that he, Richardson, "fired" Wen Ho Lee because he had been discovered to have committed the "most massive violations of DOE rules for handling classified information" in history. Richardson was talking about Wen Ho Lee having downloaded the so-called "legacy files" from a "secure" computer network at Los Alamos to a less "secure" [but still practically impenetrable desktop computer] in Wen Ho Lee's office in "X" Division at Los Alamos [one of the most "secure" facilities in the whole country]. The problem for Richardson is that he did not know about these "massive violations of Los Alamos Security procedures" at the time he "fired" Wen Ho Lee. Richardson told Mike Wallace that he did, in response to a specific question about what he knew when he fired Wen Ho Lee. But Richardson lied. No one -- except Wen Ho Lee -- knew.

And it gets worse, Bob. According to Fox News, the Clinton Administration represented to Senator Thompson's Government Affairs Committee that DOE/FBI had presented in August 1997, in their third attempt to get a wiretap for Wen Ho Lee, 18 elements of "probable cause." One of the most important of those 18 elements that the FBI/DOE is now alleging that they presented in August 1997 is: Lee worked on "legacy codes" (vitally important computer data from U.S. nuclear tests), a top priority of Chinese intelligence.

But as I have said, Bob, nobody at DOE/FBI even knew what the "legacy codes" were until after Wen Ho Lee was "fired" on March 8, 1999! They could not possibly have listed that as one element of probable cause presented to Janet Reno two years ago.

There's more, worse yet: When Chris Cox had Trent Lott and other key Senators in for a briefing on the "classified" evidence they said they had to back up their claim of massive penetration of the U.S. weapons labs decades ago, the "classified" evidence that Trent Lott later said made the "hair on the back of my neck stand on end." I will bet you that what Chris Cox showed Lott et al. was the "legacy files." Now as Gordon Prather states in his Report to Jack Kemp in summing up the W-88 caper:

It did not seem to occur to any Committee Member that the FBI really had no "probable cause" at that time, no justification for believing that a crime may have been committed. It follows that the Cox Committee had no "probable cause" to accuse the "unidentified Los Alamos suspect" of any crime either. As to the reports leaked by the Clinton Administration of the "evidence" they found when they searched Wen Ho Lee's computer at his office in a secure area at Los Alamos, that search happened after the Cox Report was "filed" and so could not have been included.

Here are excerpts from the April 28 Risen-Gerth NYT report about when they found the "legacy files" on Wen Ho Lee's's computer: "It was not until last month [March], just a few days before he was fired, that the FBI finally asked for and received Lee's authorization to search his computer, officials said. Once the bureau saw the transferred files in the unclassified computer network, investigators realized their significance. Within days, Richardson was briefed, and he then told the president [on March 31] and shut down the lab's computer systems for two weeks."

To recapitulate, Bob, from everything we have learned on the public record, we can now say that:

1. Wen Ho Lee was suspected by Energy Department Security "snoops" in the 1980s of doing something because he was Chinese and attended scientific meetings in Beijing on behalf of Los Alamos. Nevertheless, he had been cleared for Top Secret work when he first came to Los Alamos and had survived at least three periodic re-investigations of his suitability to hold a "Q" Clearance. Therefore, he continued to work in the most sensitive areas of Los Alamos, "X" Division.

2. According to Stephen Schwartz, the publisher of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists who appeared as an expert witness for Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes, in 1995 a Chinese double agent presented documents to the CIA he said the PRC had stolen from the United States. On a single handwritten sheet there was information on several U.S. warheads and re-entry vehicles and a cutaway drawing of what purported to be the re-entry vehicle for the Trident II missile.

3. Ignoring all the rest, Energy Department Security agents immediately homed in on the W-88, Los Alamos and Wen Ho Lee. Everyone -- including Chris Cox, Warren Rudman and Fred Thompson -- who has examined this immediate focus on Wen Ho Lee on the part of the Energy Department Security officials has been baffled by it.

4. For three years, Energy's chief snoop, Notra Trulock, and the FBI got nowhere -- until the Cox Committee came along, which really had not been looking into this realm at the time. Cox was looking at the technology transfer involving the Loral-Hughes satellites and the Chinese commercial rockets used to lift them into orbit. But without hearing from the real experts on nuclear weapons, Chris Cox [over the objections of some of his Committee] accepted the Trulock hypothesis about the W-88 and Wen Ho Lee.

5. Arriving at the Energy Department from his previous post as United Nations ambassador, Bill Richardson became alarmed at the realization that Trulock was now being believed by Chris Cox, whereas for three years no one in the Clinton Administration, including Sandy Berger and Janet Reno, had believed Trulock. Richardson decided he immediately had to take drastic action, to take the heat off the White House. In December 1998, he ordered Wen Ho Lee removed from "X" Division. In February, he rescinded his "Q" clearance. On March 8, 1999 he pressured Los Alamos -- a private contractor -- into firing him.

6. But [according to 60 Minutes expert Schwartz] Wen Ho Lee had not worked on the W-88 warhead itself, but on the "primary" trigger that had been developed, put on the shelf along with other "primaries," then taken off the shelf and used in the W-88. Wen Ho Lee would not have, therefore, have had a "need to know" how the W-88 was designed or how thermonuclear warheads "worked" in general. Wen Ho Lee's work in the "X" Division on "primaries" would not have been of much interest to the PRC. But, because of Trulock's suspicions about Wen Ho Lee and the W-88, Wen Ho Lee was moved in 1993 from working on "primaries" to an "archiving" project [WARP], apparently in the belief that he could not learn much on an archiving project that would be of value to anyone. It was only in March of 1999 that Trulock et al. learned how wrong they had been. If Wen Ho Lee is a PRC mole, Trulock is responsible for planting this mole smack in the middle of the nuclear weapons developer's mother lode!

7. Lee's problems with Richardson and Cox, instead ending when nothing about the W-88 was found in mid-March on his computer or in his home, actually were exacerbated from mid-March on. The planting of Wen Ho Lee smack in the middle of mole heaven had been done by the Clinton Administration. When Richardson fired Wen Ho Lee he thought he was firing a Ronald Reagan mole. Until mid-March Richardson had been claiming that whatever Wen Ho Lee did had been done on Ronald Reagan's watch. Now, after discovery in mid-March of the downloaded "legacy files," Chris Cox could blame the Clinton Administration for leaking nuclear secrets to Beijing that would make Trent Lott's hair stand on end. It was now in both Richardson's and Cox's interest for everyone to believe that they had " known" all along that Wen Ho Lee gave the legacy files to the PRC. Clearly, they believed it to be so much in their interest that they have conspired to lie about it.

8. Both Richardson and Cox and the FBI desperately want Wen Ho Lee to "cop a plea" and agree that he "mishandled classified material" [as Peter Lee -- no relation -- had already done in 1997]. If they can get Wen Ho Lee to plead guilty to even a minor offense, then the Feds won't have to prove that he did. But more importantly to Richardson is that in his 60 Minutes interview, Wen Ho Lee said such transfers were routine at Los Alamos and elsewhere. Which is true, according to 60 Minutes expert Schwarz. Then Mike Wallace got Richardson to commit to finding out the identity of the hundreds or thousands of Lab employees who had similarly "mishandled classified material" and to deal with them in exactly the same manner as he intends to do with Wen Ho Lee. We have to hope, for God's sake, that Wen Ho Lee won't plead guilty. Make Richardson prosecute half the weapon scientists at Los Alamos and Livermore!!!

Why is it important that you get involved, Bob? Because the rest of the news media has invested so much of its credibility in this wild goose chase of the NYTimes and the Cox Commission that they will not admit their mistakes. I'm afraid that Wen Ho Lee will feel such pressure from the weight of the Political Establishment that he will buckle, as so many other innocent people have done when faced with the threats of the federal government. If the feds want you to go to prison, you will, even if you are named Mother Theresa. Your friend Bill Richardson seems prepared to do just that, to save his own skin.

I wish you would have a chat with him. Before you do, please read Stephen Schwartz's account in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. (http://www.bullatomsci.org/issues/1999/mj99/mj99schwartz.html)